Frequently Asked Questions about
Gifted Education in Leon County Schools

Who are gifted students?
How are students referred for gifted screening?
What happens in the psychological evaluation?
How is gifted eligibility determined?
What if I have my child tested privately?
What is a Gifted Educational Plan (EP)?
What are the procedural safeguards for gifted students?
If my child does not qualify for gifted, can s/he be referred again?
What is Plan B?
May a student with a disability also be classified as gifted?
May a gifted student have a 504 plan?
If my student leaves the regular classroom to attend a gifted class, must s/he make up missed work?
May a student be dismissed from gifted education?
Must a student identified as gifted receive gifted services?
How are gifted services provided?
Are there any opportunities for parents interested in gifted education?

Who are gifted students?

In Florida, a student who is gifted has "superior intellectual development and is capable of high performance."  There are three eligibility criteria for a student to be determined eligible as gifted:

1. Need for a special program.

2. A majority of characteristics of gifted students according to a standard scale or checklist, and

3. Superior intellectual development as measured by an intelligence quotient of two (2) standard deviations or more above the mean on an individually administered standardized test of intelligence.

The "need for a special program" is documented in a teacher statement of need, and a teacher completes a checklist of common characteristics of gifted students to comply with the second requirement.  On most current tests of intellectual ability, the "qualifying" IQ score is 130.  This represents intellectual functioning within the top 2% of students.

How are students referred for gifted screening?

Students may be referred by teachers, parents, or community members.  With written parent consent for screening, students are tested by a person designated in the school (generally the school's referral coordinator) using an individual intellectual screener.  Students with a "good" checklist, a statement of need, and a screening score of 125 or above are then referred for an individual psychological evaluation to be conducted by a district school psychologist.  This requires parent consent for evaluation.

What happens in the psychological evaluation?

A district school psychologist will evaluate the student at the student's school.  Generally this is done in one session and take less than 1.5 hours.  After the evaluation, the school psychologist writes a report listing and interpreting test results.  A copy of this report is sent to the school.

How is gifted eligibility determined?

A committee at the school considers the results of psychological evaluation, the gifted checklist, and the statement of need and recommends the student as either eligible (i.e., meets all three criteria for gifted placement) or ineligible.  This is sent to the ESE director's designee for review and sign-off.  

If the student is found to be ineligible for services, the parents are sent a letter from the school stating that this is the case along with a copy of the psychological report.  If the student is found to be eligible for gifted services, the parents are invited to attend a meeting at the school to discuss the evaluation results, to write a gifted educational plan (EP) for the student, and to give written consent for gifted placement.

What if I have my child tested privately?

Parents have the option of having a child tested privately at their own expense.  The examiner must hold a Florida license either as a school psychologist or as a psychologist.  The school is not allowed to recommend particular practitioners to you as this represents a conflict of interest.  You may seek an individual through the "Yellow Pages" looking under "Psychologists, School" or "Psychologists."  The Multidisciplinary Center at FSU also conducts intellectual evaluations for a fee.

What is a Gifted Educational Plan (EP)?

A gifted EP is a document that describes the gifted services the student is to receive, the location and frequency of those services, and the goals and objectives (based on student strengths) to be addressed.  In addition, it lists information about the student's current level of performance (e.g., most recent test scores, strengths and interests, academic functioning, and gifted needs) that lead to those goals.  The EP also specifies how and how often the parents will be informed of the student's progress toward meeting the EP goals/objectives.  The team that develops the EP consists of one or more parents, a regular education teacher (written input is permitted in the absence of the teacher), a teacher of the gifted, a person qualified to interpret the most recent evaluation results, and a local education authority (a school administrator or designee). 

Gifted EP's are written to cover a multi-year period:  grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, or 9-12.  If the school or the parent feels that the current EP is no longer appropriate, either party may request that an EP meeting be held to discuss concerns and possibly re-write the EP.  Parents have the right to receive a written notice prior to any any EP meeting.

A student may not receive gifted services without a valid EP in place.

What are the procedural safeguards for gifted students?

Because gifted education is part of special education in the state of Florida, gifted students and their parents are afforded certain due process rights and procedural safeguards.  The document listing these rights and safeguards are supplied to parent at the time that consent is given for evaluation and when an invitation is given for an EP meeting.  

If my child does not qualify for gifted, can s/he be referred again?

A student who has previously been evaluated by the district is not given the district screener.  Instead, the IQ score achieved in the previous evaluation is used as the "screening" score.  If the student's previous score is a least 125, the student may be referred for another psychological evaluation.

What is Plan B?

Because of the Florida Department of Education's concern that students from certain groups were significantly under-represented in the gifted population, in the early 1990's a rule was passed to allow districts to adopt an alternative method (informally known as "Plan B") for identifying some groups of students.  Currently, students allowed to qualify for gifted education under "Plan B" are those from families with low socio-economic status (the student is on free or reduced lunch) or students who are classified as ELL (English Language Learners).  The Leon County criteria for gifted placement under "Plan B" includes measures of academic achievement, intellectual ability, and creativity as well as the results of the gifted behavior checklist and the teacher statement of need.

May a student with a disability also be classified as gifted?

Yes.  There are a number of gifted students in our school system who are "twice exceptional" in that they are both gifted and have an identified IDEA disability.  These students have Individual Education Plans (IEP's) rather than gifted EP's.  The IEP contains one or more gifted goals and must be re-written yearly.  The teacher of the gifted should be an active member of the student's IEP team. 

May a gifted student have a 504 plan?

Yes.  A 504 plan lists accommodations necessary for a student with a disability covered under Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Gifted students who have neither an IEP nor 504 plan may not be given accommodations in testing.

If my student leaves the regular classroom to attend a gifted class, must s/he make up missed work?

Leon County Schools has a policy that addresses this situation.  It is up to each school to develop a plan to coordinate ESE and regular education services.  While the student is attending a resource class, the student is in class receiving an ESE service.  The student may not be required to make up missed class work, but can be held responsible for homework that has been assigned.  It is the teacher's responsibility to assure that any new learning (e.g., introduction of a new skill or concept) presented in the student's absence is mastered by the student who is attending a part-time ESE program.  

May a student be dismissed from gifted education?

Yes, but only if the EP team determines that this is appropriate.  This decision would be based on a review of the student's educational progress and needs.  If there is not a need for gifted education (i.e., the student's needs are being adequately addressed in the general curriculum), the student may be dismissed from gifted education.  This is not a recommendation to be taken lightly as student dismissed as gifted would have to be re-tested and re-qualify as gifted to re-enter the program and begin receiving gifted services again.

Must a student identified as gifted receive gifted services?

The EP team (or the parent unilaterally) may recommend that the student not receive gifted services during some period of time.  During this period without services, the student is considered "gifted, not participating," and the school does not earn weighted FTE funding during this time.  The student may begin receiving services at some later time at EP team or parent request.

How are gifted services provided?

Gifted services are state mandated for grades K-12.

Gifted services in Leon County Schools are all school-based.  At the elementary level, schools currently provide either enrichment or content-based services (or a combination thereof) on a part-time basis .  Gifted services at the middle schools primarily consist of content-based courses.  At the high school level, gifted services may also be provided through content-based courses and/or through special gifted electives (e.g., "Gifted Studies," "Gifted Externship") offered at some schools.

Are there any opportunities for parents interested in gifted education?

The Tallahassee Gifted Network (TGN) is a group of parents, teachers, and others in Leon County and the Big Bend area who are especially interested in the education of children who are recognized as being gifted and talented.  They operate as a subsidiary of the Foundation for Leon County Schools. Please contact Susan Saunders if you are interested in working with these parents. Their current plans are to continue putting on an annual gifted symposium and to develop additional programs for parents and students.

TGN has a small parent resource library in the lobby area with books related to a variety of gifted issues.  These may be checked out on a monthly basis by any parent of a LCS gifted student.  

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